Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions and Other Communications

(a) To receive any questions or petitions from the public, or communications submitted by the Lord Mayor or the Chief Executive and to pass such resolutions thereon as the Council Procedure Rules permit and as may be deemed expedient.



(NOTE: There is a time limit of one hour for the above item of business.  In accordance with the arrangements published on the Council’s website, questions/petitions are required to be submitted in writing, to, by 9.00 a.m. on Monday 31st October. Questions/petitions submitted after the deadline will be asked at the meeting subject to the discretion of the Chair.)



(b)      Petition Requiring Debate


The Council’s Petitions Scheme requires that a petition containing over 5,000 signatures from individuals who live, work or study in Sheffield, be the subject of debate at the Council meeting.  A qualifying petition has been received as follows:-




To debate an electronic petition containing over 9,250 signatures (of which more than 5,000 are deemed to be from individuals who either live, work or study in Sheffield) asking the Council to repair, not demolish, Rose Garden Cafe, Graves Park.  The online petition - Petition · Make the council repair, not demolish, Rose Garden Cafe, Graves Park. · - includes further information.





Mayoral Engagements/Events




The Lord Mayor (Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards) and the Deputy Lord Mayor (Councillor Colin Ross) briefly reported on engagements and events they had recently attended regarding (a) the hosting in the city of the France, Scotland, USA and Wales Wheelchair Rugby League teams who were competing in the (delayed) 2021 Rugby League World Cup finals tournament being held in England from 15th October to 19th November, 2022, (b) the opening of a new school education building in Whirlow where young people who were struggling to learn in mainstream school settings can go to learn whilst receiving support to assist them to return to mainstream school and (c) the presentation to Pitsmoor Adventure Playground, by the Lord Lieutenant, of the prestigious The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the awarding of which had been announced prior to the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.




Petitions and Public Questions




The Lord Mayor (Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards) reported that two petitions and questions from six members of the public had been received prior to the published deadline for submission of petitions and questions for this meeting.  Representations were to be made on behalf of the petitioners on one of the petitions and the other petition would be received in the absence of a speaker.  One further petition was to be debated at the end of the item, and this was referred to at item 4(b) on the agenda for the meeting.








Petition Requesting the Council to Cancel the City Centre Clean Air Zone




The Council received an electronic petition containing 275 signatures, requesting the Council to cancel the City Centre Clean Air Zone.




Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Ibrar Hussain, who stated that, whilst appreciating the work undertaken, and progress made, in regard to the Clean Air Zone (CAZ), he considered that, given the current economic climate, such proposals would have a serious, adverse effect on the taxi trade. He referred to the fact that there was currently only one manufacturer producing electric Hackney Carriage vehicles, and that they were at a cost of approximately £60,000.  Mr Hussain was requesting that implementation of the CAZ be delayed to enable all parties to work together, to ensure that we have a clean, green city centre for all residents of Sheffield to enjoy. 




The Council referred the petition to the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee.  Councillor Julie Grocutt (Co-Chair of that Committee) thanked Mr Hussain for presenting the petition, and referred to the extensive discussions held with himself, and the taxi trade, on the planned implementation of the CAZ.  She stated that she understood the concerns raised by the taxi trade and, for this reason, the Council was constantly lobbying the Government for additional support for those people adversely affected by the proposals.  The Council recognised that it needed to do whatever was required in order to improve air quality in the city, and was committed to delivering the CAZ.  The Council, however, also recognised that the proposed scheme needed to be fair for all Sheffield residents, therefore would continue to lobby the Government for additional funding to enable this to be achieved. The Council wanted to work with all organisations and individuals to make sure the scheme was fair and equitable for all. Councillor Grocutt stated that the scheme would be rolled out in spring 2023, and further details would be released shortly, providing information on how people could apply for grants and loans.  The Council would work hard to mobilise the financial support measures, and provide assistance for people to make the required upgrades in terms of their vehicles as soon as possible.  Councillor Grocutt concluded by stating that the Council would continue liaising with the taxi trade and van drivers, and promised to do everything it could to support them.




Petition Requesting the Council to Ensure that Rose Garden Café, Graves Park, is Funded, Repaired and Remains Open




The Council received an electronic petition containing 20 signatures, requesting the Council to ensure that Rose Garden Café, Graves Park, is funded, repaired and remains open.  There was no speaker for this petition.




The Council referred the petition to the Charity Trustee Sub-Committee.






Public Questions




Question From Matthew Killeya




Matthew Killeya asked the following question:-


As we are all aware, people across our city are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. In my own area, there is an old lady that is a vulnerable pensioner with a pre-paid meter and has seen her electricity bills more than double over the last year.  Doorstep lenders have been targeting people in the area.


In dealing with the crisis, I want to commend the response made by Councillor Terry Fox in classifying this as a major incident and declaring this as a city-wide emergency and offering a package of support, acknowledging that this was a difficult thing to do given the Council’s current financial state and particularly under the austerity the city has lived in over the last 12 years.


As our communities face such difficult circumstances - and given the financial pressures on main council budgets from years of government funding cuts - it has been suggested that Local Area Committees (LACs) budgets could be used to support people facing crisis.  There are supposed to be a valuable forum of local voices.


I did write to Councillor Andrew Sangar, Chair of the South West LAC, on this matter over a month ago and thank him for his response, which I received late last night.


The South West LAC is not being proactive or timely enough in responding to this crisis.  It’s not enough to simply commit to reprioritise budgets when the opportunity occurs, how and when will decisions be taken, what is the mechanism?  Could a special meeting be arranged as a matter of urgency, waiting until the next quarterly meeting to be held in January is just too slow. Ploughing on with the budget does not recognise the huge changes in communities since setting its budgets.


Do you agree that all political parties should use all available budgets to prioritise support for those that are struggling ahead of items such as planting of wildflowers and tackling dog fouling, whilst we see our people through a very challenging period? And if so, what proactive measures are being taken to adjust the south west and other budgets and to engage the public on these decisions as a matter of urgency?




In response, Councillor Terry Fox (the Leader of the Council and Chair of the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee) stated that he had attended a meeting of the South West Local Area Committee (LAC) last month and listened to the debate.  He said that all local decisions should be flexible to adjust to the specific needs of communities and neighbourhoods in light of the cost of living crisis. Councillor Fox said that all LACs had community plans which had been developed before the cost of living crisis really took hold.  He said that he was helping to lead on the city response and was looking at how the most vulnerable residents of the city could be helped, and this included the role of Local Area Committees in coordinating responses in their areas.  He said that Councillor Sangar had shared with him the letter referred to and thanked him for that.  Councillor Fox expressed the sheer enormity of the crisis which had hit the city and said that money lenders were operating everywhere.  He said that the Council had set up neighbourhood hubs and welcoming places and a number of cross-party committees had been established, working alongside Voluntary Action Sheffield and other organisations, to deliver pre-paid digital cards to help towards the pressures of the rising energy costs, the setting up of a helpline, the distribution of free school meal vouchers, the distribution of Council tax support monies to pension age households and many other schemes to offer help and support to the most vulnerable people across our city.




Councillor Fox said that with regard to the LACs, it was for them to decide how they roll out their budgets, to work with their local communities to offer support and help people to understand what we as Councillors do, and he welcomed members of the public to come and challenge us and hold us to account.




Questions From Isobel O’Leary




Isobel O’Leary asked the following questions:-


Question 1 The most high-profile issue currently is the closure and fate of the Rose Garden café. Can we trust that the Council understands the public’s desire to stabilise, restore and then maintain the current iconic Rose Garden café building rather than any options involving demolishing the café? Can we have faith that the Council will do their utmost to re-open the café as soon as possible for the benefit of the many park users and to restore the employment of the café staff who have provided a valuable service for years?




Question 2The proposed sale of the Freehold for Bole Hill Farm, which is part of the designated charitable parkland, goes against the will and wish of JG Graves. The Council appear to believe that not only are they allowed to but are obliged to sell the Freehold to the current Leaseholder, despite the Charity Commission stating that the farm should not have been sold as it is designated land, and the Trustee has no power of sale. 


(a)      Has the Council as Sole Trustee of this charitable parkland consulted the Charity Commission on this proposed sale?


(b)      Does the Council understand that the Leasehold Reform Act excludes charitable land?


(c)      Can we trust that the Council is not seeking to mislead the public in suggesting that the current Leaseholders have the automatic right to buy the Freehold?




Question 3Can we trust that the Council will fulfil their commitment to restoring the Nurseries area of Graves Park to parkland? This would be at no cost the Council as the Friends of Graves Park have a design and will provide labour and materials.




The Lord Mayor thanked Ms. O’Leary for her questions and invited Councillor Bryan Lodge (Chair of the Charity Trustee Sub-Committee) to answer the first and second sets of questions and Councillor Richard Williams (Chair of the Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee) to answer the final question.




In response to the questions on the Rose Garden Café building, Councillor Bryan Lodge stated that this matter was to be debated later at this meeting, but he wished to emphasise that no decision had yet been taken in relation to the future of the building.  He added that consideration was being given to the possibility of applying for listed status for the building in recognition of its importance, and more detail on this would be provided during the later debate.




In relation to the sale of the Freehold for Bole Hill Farm, Councillor Lodge stated that the Council was the corporate Trustees of Graves Park and the role of the Charity Trustee Sub-Committee was to deliver the Council’s corporate responsibility.  The issue of the Freehold had been raised via a question asked at the Sub-Committee’s meeting on 25th October and the advice provided at the Sub-Committee’s meeting was that this formed part of the reversal of the Freehold.  Since that meeting, further information had been supplied to the Council by the Friends of Graves Park, and the Charity Commission had also submitted questions to the Council on that matter.  As a result, the Council was to undertake further investigations on this matter and the outcome would be reported to a future meeting of the Sub-Committee and made available to the public at the same time.




Councillor Richard Williams responded to the question regarding the nurseries area of Graves Park by stating that the Council’s position on the Norton Nursery area has not changed at the moment.  The City Council was undertaking a review of all its depots and was looking for alternative operating bases for its Parks and Countryside Teams and the wider Council staff.  Until then, the Council will have to continue to use the Nursery to service primarily Graves Park, but also some of the surrounding areas.  Councillor Williams said that he would ask for an update to be provided to the Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee at the earliest opportunity to find out the status of that review. 




Questions From Russell Johnson




Russell Johnson asked the following questions:-


1. I understand Sheffield City Council (SCC) commissioned Bevan Brittan LLP to investigate and report upon the improper (misuse) use of the exemption of Legal & Professional Privilege, by both officers and Elected Members to deliberately suppress legitimate requests for information (particularly with reference to the street tree dispute, now subject to a separate Independent Inquiry by Sir Mark Lowcock) as provided for in legislation.


(a) On what date was this report commissioned?

(b) Has this report been submitted to SCC and if so on what date?

(c)  When can the citizens of Sheffield finally expect publication of this report?

(d) What has been the full cost of this exercise?


2. At Full Council on 7 July last year, I asked that the Council commit to the removal of Clause 6.38 from the Amey Streets Ahead PFI. This is the contractual requirement (not a ‘modelling number’ or ‘target’ as Mr. Mothersole referred to the figure in his Inquiry evidence last week) that requires the removal of 17,500 street trees during the PFI Contract.


I was pleased and somewhat surprised that Councillor Wood answered in the affirmative. He appeared to see my request as unproblematic. Though some consternation seemed to be expressed by the then Director of Legal & Governance!


However, as far as I am aware, this has not happened.


(a)      Why not?


(b)      In the context of Amey LG and Amey plc being under new owners who may no longer wish to mitigate reputational damage as Ferrovial needed to in preparing for selling, does SCC foresee additional difficulty in fulfilling their stated commitment to remove the clause or in reduced flexibility more widely?


(c)      Given the history of incompetence and naivety of Sheffield Legal and Governance Department, - evidenced in recent Inquiry testimonies - can taxpayers be confident that the City’s interests will not be further disadvantaged in any negotiations with the new owners that may be required?


3. Despite previous assurances, there are still delays and excessive redactions in the Council’s FOIR responses.


(a) Does the Leader agree that it is in no one’s interests to return to the situation described by Councillor Lodge and former Chief Executive John Mothersole in their Inquiry evidence where the Council was bombarded with and overwhelmed by FOIRs and SARs?


(b) Would the Leader give a commitment to offer such transparency and honest communications in future such that the Citizens need to resort to these routes less frequently?




The Lord Mayor thanked Mr. Johnson for his questions and invited Councillor Terry Fox (the Leader of the Council and Chair of the Strategy and Resources Policy Committee) to answer the first and third sets of questions and Councillor Joe Otten (Chair of the Waste and Street Scene Policy Committee) to answer the second set of questions.




Councillor Terry Fox stated that he had just returned from leave and not had time to provide as much detail as he would have liked. However, the Bevan report was commissioned to respond to the specific complaints made and it was intended to make the findings public and would do so in the very near future. He said the report would also be made available to the Street Trees Inquiry, but it was only right that the first person to see the report should be the complainant. It had taken longer to conclude for a number of reasons but should be resolved soon and then made public.  With regard to the specific questions, the report was commissioned in April last year and the final report received in August 2022. The cost of this had been £35,900 including VAT. Councillor Fox stated that, as a Council, there was always information that could and could not be made public, therefore some things that simply could not be published.  However, he felt that citizens should not have to use FOIs and SARs to gain information, and this was something he would look into. Councillor Fox said that he would be attending the Street Trees Inquiry within the next few weeks.




Councillor Joe Otten said that some of the questions asked had been raised by himself previously.  On the question of Clause 6.38 within the Amey Streets Ahead PFI contract, he had been advised that that clause had been removed and the contract change notice had been issued and the legal process was underway.  Furthermore, a target for removal of street trees was certainly not being applied in the operation of the contract.  He said that the Street Tree Partnership was where consultation and decisions on the outstanding tree issues were made, although he was a little frustrated at the slow progress being made in relation to some of the outstanding streets. However, work was progressing and there were street trees being saved on some streets as a result of changes being made to the earlier plans. On the question regarding the sale of Amey to the new parent company, this would not affect the Council’s rights in the contract and he was not concerned that there would be a material change in relation to the operation of the contract. However, he was concerned that there were performance issues associated with the contract and these would be considered at the next meeting of the Policy Committee in December.




Questions From Rizwana Lala




Rizwana Lala referred to a number of distressing incidences that had occurred in and around the city regarding what she perceived to be a hostile environment towards asylum seekers and migrant people living in Sheffield, and she asked the following questions:-


Can the Council assure us that they are using all their levers to end the hostile environment for migrants in Sheffield Hospitals?


Can the Council tell us what steps are being taken to assure the welfare needs of asylum seekers are being met in the accommodation asylum seekers are housed in Sheffield?




The Lord Mayor thanked Ms. Lala for her questions and invited Councillor Angela Argenzio (Co-Chair of the Adult Health and Social Care Policy Committee) to answer the first question and Councillor Douglas Johnson (Chair of the Housing Policy Committee) to answer the second question.




In response to the first question, Councillor Angela Argenzio stated that the Council had awareness of what was going on in the city but that it was important to be informed of matters of concern.  She said there was a need for the Council to do all it could to use its leverage and put pressure on what was effectively a directive from national government.  She said the Council had a good relationship with local NHS bodies, it was very strong and getting stronger, but the Council was always prepared to ask difficult questions of its NHS partners.  Also, members of the public could ask questions at all Policy Committees and Councillor Argenzio invited Ms. Lala to attend the next meeting of the Adult Health and Social Care Policy Committee on 16th November and the Health and Wellbeing Board meeting, due to be held on 8th December, where representatives from the NHS would be in attendance and she could ask questions directly to them.  Councillor Argenzio added that, as a local authority, the Council cannot do very much in this matter but can put pressure on the NHS by asking those challenging questions.




In response to the second question, Councillor Douglas Johnson stated that the whole of Sheffield was proud to be the first City of Sanctuary, and that currently about 1,300 men, women and children currently living in the city were seeking asylum.  He said that when people come to this country, they were in need of housing, social services, education and other services, but they were not treated the same as other people, and the Council was not permitted to treat asylum seekers in the same way as it can treat local citizens who were homeless. He said the whole issue of migration was politically toxic, which was why migrants were sent down a different track.  Councillor Johnson said that Sheffield had a system in place of doing what it could, but the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) funnelled migrants and sometimes completely bypassed local authorities from getting involved.  The Council had no legal jurisdiction regarding the welfare of asylum seekers, but did its best to offer support where it could.  For example, Council officers within the private rented housing standards service were able to inspect and enforce accommodation standards in relation to houses in multiple occupation. With regard to education, the Council has the ability to provide education places for those of school age, but unfortunately not for those of pre-school age.  Adult & Children’s social care services had a role to play, as did the Environmental Protection service.  However, Councillor Johnson alluded to the challenges faced by the Council in providing support to asylum seekers bearing in mind the financial pressures across the Council due to ever increasing demand and reductions in resources and the constraints caused by the Home Office’s outsourcing arrangements.




(NOTES: 1. The questions which had been submitted by Abid Hussain and Matt Turner, but which had not been asked at the meeting due to their absence, would receive a written response from the Chairs of the relevant Policy Committees and be published on the website; and


2. Questions from another member of the public had been received immediately prior to the meeting, but the Lord Mayor decided not to permit the questions to be asked on this occasion due to their late receipt and some of the content pertaining to an individual’s personal circumstances, and instead asked that written answers from the relevant Policy Committee Chair/s be provided to the questioner.)






Petition Requiring Debate: Requesting The Council To Repair, Not Demolish, Rose Garden Café, Graves Park




The Council received a joint electronic and paper petition containing 11,127 signatures requesting the Council to repair, not demolish, Rose Garden Café, Graves Park.




The Council's Petitions Scheme required any petition containing over 5,000 signatures (from individuals who either live, work or study in Sheffield) to be the subject of debate at the Council meeting.




Representations on behalf of the petitioners were made by Liz Hnat.  She stated that Rose Garden Cafe building was constructed in 1927 as a refreshment pavilion, at the instruction of JG Graves. This petition, which is now at over 11,000 signatures, shows the support that there is for repairing that building which the Council has deemed as being “At its End of Life”.  The Café had been closed down, with the current operators, Brewkitchen Ltd., being given 15 minutes notice to vacate the building.  Ms Hnat stated that she, along with many other people, feel very strongly that this iconic building should be saved, and she had started the petition on the same day that the building had been closed.  Very quickly, and with little effort, people were signing the petition at an incredible rate, showing just how much anger there was and how much support there is for repairing the building.  She added that, whilst the Council’s Petitions Scheme requires that signatories needed to be from very specific Sheffield postcodes, the petition gained signatures from people from all over the country who were visiting for the day. There are people in Rotherham, Dronfield, Barnsley and beyond who are regular users of Graves Park, and whose very valid signatures should be counted.  Ms Hnat stated that J G Graves gifted Graves Park to the people of Sheffield in 1925, but in 1927, he was also gifted a gold key to the Rose Garden Pavilion when it was completed, as a sign of admiration for the work which he, the then Lord Mayor and Alderman, was doing for the city. This building is a last thread to his legacy. It represents memory, community and generosity.  She commented that the campaign group have heard many stories from so many different generations about what that building means to them. Part of that is that it’s a meeting place and a cafe, but its architecture, and how it looks in the Park, is woven into those memories, and is a physical link to history that we are losing from so many parks and places at this moment in time.  Ms. Hnat stated that a building that isn’t even 100 years old should not be at risk of demolition, and that the situation we are now in is because of years of neglect by this Council’s current and previous Administrations.  Nobody has maintained the building, with only reactive repairs, at best, having been undertaken.  She added that, in 2018, the Council was made aware that the building was in a serious state of disrepair and yet nothing was done. It is disgraceful that its history is now at risk because of the Council’s inaction. The people of Sheffield, to date, have still not received an apology for that neglect.  Ms. Hnat commented that the petitioners do not agree that the building is at the end of its life.  Demolition is not an option we even consider viable. The petitioners will fully support fundraising activities to repair the Cafe building once they know the target they need to work towards, but do not want an additional lengthy consultation process, which will damage the building to a further extent as its left to crumble during that period.  Ms Hnat concluded by stating the 11,000 signatures already show the level of support there is for the repair of the building, and that all signatories want the Café to be repaired, improved and reinvigorated.  They want its history to remain, and want new generations to make memories there.  They want this building to shine in all its glory as a link to our past and future, so that JG Graves’ legacy and his generosity will be remembered.




Councillor Bryan Lodge (Chair of the Charity Trustee Sub-Committee), in responding to the petition, thanked Ms Hnat for presenting the petition, and stated that it was clear that there was a considerable level of feeling and support for the café building, not only from Sheffield residents, but people from surrounding areas and across the country. The Council was looking at submitting a listing application for the building, which, if successful, would help the Council to find additional funding for the provision of a building fit for the location. Councillor Lodge stated that the issue had been discussed at a recent meeting of the Charity Trustee Sub-Committee, at which there had been reference made, in the structural report, to the building reaching its “end of life”.  He stressed that there were no current plans to demolish the building as the Council needed to undertake a full appraisal of its condition, and a full structural survey would be commissioned. Councillor Lodge apologised for the decision to close the building at such short notice, particularly regarding the effect on the staff who worked in the cafe, but indicated that this decision had been necessary for health and safety reasons. He referred to the possible options open to the Council. The Council had written to the Chair of the Charity Commission, seeking its advice on the options and, when such advice was received, and the results of the full structural survey were known, a full options appraisal would be undertaken. The Council would work with the Friends Group, the Campaign Group and other interested parties, and when the building was safe to access, Brewkitchen Ltd would be invited to offer a service from the building. There would be a consultation process, where the views of all stakeholders and interested parties would be sought, and it was hoped that such consultation would not last too long.




Councillor Richard Williams (Deputy Chair of the Charity Trustee Sub-Committee and also Chair of the Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee) thanked Ms Hnat for presenting the petition, and stated that it was a great achievement to get over 11,000 signatures, and was a testament to both the hard work of the organisers and the depth of feeling people had for the building. Whilst appreciating the concerns of the petitioners, Councillor Williams stated that, unfortunately, the Council did not currently have the resources to commit to a way forward. He stated that whilst there was a chance that the building could be beyond repair, he sincerely hoped that the results of the structural survey indicated otherwise. He reiterated the fact that the Council was willing to work with all stakeholders to find a solution to the problem. Councillor Williams referred to the commitment made by members of the Graves Park and Beauchief and Greenhill Wards, to allocate £10,000 each towards a Rose Garden Cafe Restoration Fund.  Councillor Williams concluded by stating that the Council needed to take a serious look at how it managed its buildings and bring the management of the buildings closer to their local communities.  The Council also had to review income generation in its parks, and look at how this could be done more effectively going forward.




Councillor Marieanne Elliot (Group Spokesperson on the Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee) stated that there had been issues in the past arising from outsourcing, and that a cafe in Graves Park should be part of the Park’s facilities. She believed that the outsourcing of the building to various organisations in the past had resulted in successive leases, which had not addressed the need for the upkeep of the cafe building. Councillor Elliott believed that, in future, there needed to be a clear agreement between the organisations operating the Council's parks and the Council in terms of the liability for repairs and maintenance, and suggested that the Parks and Countryside Service should deal with the operational aspects in this case. She referred to the poor communication between the Council and the Friends Group in the past, which had resulted in a lack of trust, stating that it was hoped that this lack of trust could be rebuilt, and that the Ward Councillors could take an active role by working closely with the Friends Group. It was hoped that all interested parties could work towards the shared aim of getting a cafe back in the Park.




Councillor Janet Ridler (Council’s Heritage Spokesperson) welcomed the receipt of the petition, and recognised the importance of Rose Garden Cafe building to the local community and the residents of Sheffield, particularly in terms of its history and heritage, as well as a cafe facility for users of Graves Park.  Councillor Ridler stated that the Cafe was an iconic heritage building, and that the petition had highlighted the passion and determination of the local community to restore and protect the building.  She supported the proposal to apply to Historic England for listed building status, which would not only validate the building’s importance as a heritage asset, but also support the Council in protecting the building by opening up new opportunities for external funding.  She stated that she would like to work with Ms Hnat and the Campaign Group on the listing application.  Councillor Ridler concluded by stating that the Council would do everything possible to restore the building for the enjoyment of future generations.




Councillor Ian Auckland highlighted the clear object of the campaign, which was to save, and not demolish, the cafe building.  He believed that, in the past, the Council had often failed to make the distinction between buildings with charitable status and the Council's general policy regarding such buildings.  He explained the charitable status of the building, and referred to the wording of the Charity deeds, which stated that the first call on the Charity's assets was to maintain the building. Councillor Auckland concluded by stating that if local Ward Councillors had been nominated as Trustees of the Charity, there would have been positive action taken in 2018, when the structural problems regarding the roof had first been identified.




Councillor Douglas Johnson congratulated the petition organisers for the huge numbers of signatures obtained, and stated that, whilst the building was not going to collapse, there was a need for restoration works, which it was hoped could be undertaken as soon as possible to allow for the building to be used as a cafe again. Councillor Johnson referred to the funding provided by the Council towards the upkeep of Graves Park, as well as other parks in the city, indicating that there was a need for better investment in all the city’s parks.




Councillor Richard Shaw thanked the petitioners for their hard work, and stated that, in his opinion, the way the cafe staff had been asked to leave the building, with 15 minutes notice, had been disgraceful.  Councillor Shaw referred to the report submitted to the Council in 2018, setting out the structural condition of the building, indicating that it was likely that it would now cost substantially more to repair given the delays in taking action at that time.  He also suggested that local Ward Councillors should be appointed Trustees of the Charity in order to safeguard the Park's heritage, and referred to the donation of £10,000 by Members of the Graves Park and Beauchief and Greenhill Wards towards the restoration works.  Councillor Shaw concluded by asking that any additional city-wide funding should be used towards the restoration works.




Liz Hnat and Andy Kershaw shared the petitioners’ right of reply.  Ms. Hnat stated that whilst she welcomed and appreciated the efforts being taken to repair the café building, specifically the application for listing status, she had concerns that if such an application was successful, it could potentially result in the restoration and repair works becoming exponentially more expensive.  She referred to the comments made about the building not being in a state of collapse, questioning why, if this was the case, the cafe staff had been asked to leave with 15 minutes notice.  Andy Kershaw thanked Members of the Council for their supportive comments, as well as the Campaign Group for the excellent work they had undertaken to date. He stated that Brewkitchen Ltd. had been running the cafe for 14 years, and that the Company’s 12 members of staff had been out of work for a considerable time, and would continue to be out of work over Christmas.  He emphasised that it was the Council's responsibility to repair the building, and not Brewkitchen, and referred to the use of the term “end of life”, which he did not accept on the basis that he believed that any building could be repaired.  Mr Kershaw concluded by expressing his thanks for the £20,000 donation from the Members of the Graves Park and Beauchief and Greenhill Wards towards the restoration of the café.




Councillor Bryan Lodge responded to issues raised during the debate, stating that whilst it was acknowledged that things could have been done better in the past, the Charity Trustee Sub- Committee was now looking at the issue, and the Council had commissioned the work with regard to the structural assessment of the cafe building.




The outcome of the debate on the petition was as follows:-


Proposal 1


It was moved by Councillor Bryan Lodge and seconded by Councillor Richard Williams, that:-


“The petition be referred to the Charity Trustee Sub-Committeefor consideration.”


Proposal 2


It was moved by Councillor Douglas Johnson and seconded by Councillor Marieanne Elliot, that:-


“The petition be referred to the Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee for consideration.”




On being put to the vote, conducted by a show of hands, Proposal 1 was carried.




(NB: Members of the Labour and Liberal Democrat Groups, plus Councillors Lewis Chinchen and Sophie Wilson, voted for Proposal 1.  Members of the Green Group abstained from voting on Proposal 1 in view of their support for Proposal 2.)




Accordingly, the resolution passed by the Council was as follows:-






RESOLVED:  That this Council refers the petition to the Charity Trustee Sub-Committeefor consideration, in recognition that the Sub-Committee is to meet to consider the future of the Café Building upon receipt of the reports of the detailed survey work being undertaken and of guidance from the Charity Commission on options in relation to the future of the Building, and acknowledging that, subsequently, either or both of the Finance Sub-Committee and the Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee may also have a decision-making role in relation to the future of the Building.




Supporting documents: